Right before our eyes, the church is changing. The great focus of the soul-searching taking place in our lifetime is happening right now, and it is happening in mega-churches. Many of these super-congregations are realizing that they have reached the limits of their relevance to Americans.
Many leaders are coming to this shocking conclusion: Satan has done a number on us. Many now say the devil used a counterfeit church-growth model to deceive the gullible and discourage the faithful. When righteous pastors looked at the staggering growth of Seeker Churches, they felt overwhelmed and even wounded. They wondered, “What am I doing wrong? Am I a fool to hold on to my integrity?”
Growth seminars have proliferated all over America and they have preyed on weak Pastors. David Wilkerson said, “Ministers from small churches are being told, in so many words, ‘Attend this mega-church pastor’s seminar, and you will find the keys to success. You‘ll eventually have a church as big as his.’”
Yet these ‘keys to success’ are only causing pastors to become more discouraged. They end up being convinced that they are failures if they do not see spectacular growth. They tell me, “I am not doing anything significant for God. He just isn’t using me.”
Many mega church experts now admit that ‘making nice’ with secular America did not have any impact on the spread of violence, perversion, and atheism. To their dismay, they now confess that these things have greatly accelerated on their watch. After our complete makeover and compromise of the Gospel message, society ended up hating us even more.
We have been trashed, bashed, and left for dead. Now it is time for the Body of Christ to push back on all of the lies, threats, and ominous predictions about our demise. America is ripe for the church to make a massive comeback. You heard me, a massive comeback!
I know that all the experts are saying that the Church has lost America and will never get it back. These kinds of lies have made the rounds for centuries. Usually, they pronounce that the church is dead—right before a major revival takes place. The last time I saw it was when the “God is dead” movement swept America in the 1960’s—only to be swallowed up by the Jesus Movement.
To see this take place we will need a new Church model, one that looks nothing like what we see today. We need ‘Ground Zero Churches.’
Christian leader: take heed. I am pleading with you to consider a dynamic option for your church. I want you to consider becoming a Ground Zero Church. That consists of a strong and healthy church which grows without stress, compromise, endless striving, or vicious competition.
Let’s define a Ground Zero Church. They are the epicenter for God’s dealing with a specific region. They are a body of believers that have made the supreme covenant with God. Here are the features of a Ground Zero Church:
1. They believe that God can do it here. I wonder what would happen if, let’s say, we got a jumbo jet packed full of fired up Bible College students on their way to the mission field. We take off out of New York’s Kennedy Airport, headed for a country somewhere overseas. Instead, we order the pilot to make very wide circles over the Atlantic for hours, finally landing somewhere in New Jersey. As soon as we get off, we are hustled into vans and dropped in New York City.
I am convinced that they will raise the dead, save thousands, and deliver many from demonic oppression, and signs and wonders will abound— just because they think they are overseas.
Many Christians have deluded themselves into thinking that the reason miracles are not happening in America today is because the poor in foreign nations have a more simple faith. They think Americans are just ‘too sophisticated’ to respond. The Bible paints a much different picture. In Acts, God knocked Saul of Tarsus, the zealot-intellectual-Pharisee, flat on the ground. He became the Apostle Paul, the chief architect of the New Testament Church. And when the Holy Spirit first fell upon the Gentiles, it was in the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, a powerful man of wealth and influence.
2. Ground Zero Churches allow the Holy Spirit to transform their congregation into a core zone of irresistible glory: Paul described the overpowering effect a church gathering could have on the outside world: 24 “But if all of you prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
Matthew Henry commented on these verses, “God can, when he pleases, strike awe upon the worst of men, by the tokens of his presence in the assemblies of the faithful, and force them to acknowledge that God is with them of a truth.”
There are many examples of places where the overwhelming presence of God dropped hardened sinners to their knees.
-A reporter from London came to Wales to investigate the Welsh revival. The presence he felt when he entered Wales shocked him. He exclaimed, “This is a nation haunted by God!”
-During the Great Awakening, hardened sailors on clipper ships reported being seized with conviction of sin when they entered certain zones off the American coast.
-When Jonathan “Praying” Hyde walked past the door to the bar at a hotel, sinners dropped off of their bar stools onto their knees and began weeping under the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit.
-There are many true stories about revivals that took place in churches where the presence of God was so powerful that people who were just driving past the church would find their cars turning into the parking lot on their own. When the drivers got out, they were so overpowered by the Holy Spirit that they practically had to crawl to the door of the church. They would come, weeping, down to the altar to get saved.
3. Ground Zero Churches pull the trigger that God has hidden in their culture.
Throughout history, obedient missionaries who listened to God and observed the way God had prepared a culture through history, detonated revivals. This gave them a supernatural relevance:
-700 B.C. a plague kills one third of the population of Athens. Epimenides, a teacher who believed in the one true God, orders the city leaders to sacrifice prize rams and the plague stops. They build an altar to the unknown God. Paul pulls the trigger 744 years later, in Acts 17:23, “I even noticed that you have an altar to the unknown God. He Whom you ignorantly worship, I openly proclaim!”
-Koreans had a name for God that did not come from any pagan religion. White missionaries refused to call God by that Korean name, thinking it would be a compromise. Finally, while in prayer, one of the missionaries realized that this name was the result of the dealing of God long ago in Korean history. The moment that He called God by that Korean name, revival exploded.
-The Lihue Indians wore knots of rope around their wrists. A missionary from England, realizing that this was a symbol for their slavery to sin, preached that Christ cut these rope bands when He died on the cross. Pandemonium struck, as tens of thousands of the Lihue started sobbing and begging to have their bands cut off.
We cannot fear what our culture looks like right now. The Holy Spirit already has a message and a plan that is uniquely designed for this present darkness. Seek the Lord and believe that He not only wants to, but that He will change your church into a Ground Zero Church, and save this lost nation of ours.